Astroworld: Victims Named as Police Probe US Festival Crush




Family and friends have been paying tribute to those who died following a crowd surge at rapper Travis Scott's Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas.

At least eight people were killed and hundreds hurt at the music event, which is now under investigation by police. 

Scott has said he is working to help victims' families, but several concert-goers are suing him and the promoters for damages.

Most of the victims were young people, with the youngest said to be just 14.

 

The family of one victim, 16-year-old Brianna Rodriguez, spoke of their "profound sadness" and said the passionate dancer was "dancing her way to heaven's pearly gates".

Media caption, 
Astroworld security officer "felt a prick in his neck" – Houston Police Chief Troy Finner
 

Earlier, Houston police said their investigation into the crush would include looking into reports that somebody in the audience had been injecting people with drugs.

The surge began around 21:15 on Friday (02:15 GMT Saturday) when panic broke out as the crowd pressed towards the front of the stage during the rapper's headline set.

As the crush began causing injuries to people, panic grew and the casualties quickly overwhelmed the on-site first aiders, officials said. Some 300 people were treated for injuries such as cuts and bruises. 

Several people allegedly injured during the crowd surge have filed lawsuits against Travis Scott and festival promoter Live Nation.

One lawsuit also accuses rap artist Drake, who appeared as a surprise performer, of inciting crowds "even though he knew of "[Travis Scott's] prior conduct".

In 2018, Travis Scott pleaded guilty to a public disorder charge after he was accused of encouraging people to rush the stage at a concert in the US state of Arkansas. According to a local newspaper, he also paid nearly $7,000 (£5,186) to two people who said they were injured at the event.

Neither he nor Drake have commented on the new lawsuits against them.

 
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Families pay tribute

On Sunday, GoFund Me pages and emotional social media tributes to those who died were widely shared online. 

Danish Baig was 27. His brother Basil Mirza Baig posted on Facebook that he had been killed while trying to save another relative in the crush. "His smile would light up a room", he wrote. 

Rudy Peña, from Laredo, Texas. His age has not yet been confirmed. His sister told the Laredo Morning Times that he was "the sweetest person, friendly, outgoing, he had many friends because he was always there for everyone... he was a big fan of Travis, he loved his music."

Franco PatinoIMAGE SOURCE, FRANCO PATINO/LINKEDIN 
Image caption, 
Franco Patino was majoring in mechanical engineering

Franco Patino, 21, an engineering student at the University of Dayton. His university confirmed his death to local TV station WHIO. He was a member of the Alpha Psi Lambda fraternity and completing a work placement in Mason, Ohio. 

Brianna Rodriguez, 16, a junior at Heights High School in Houston. "Dancing was her passion and now she's dancing her way to heaven's pearly gates", her family wrote on Facebook

John Hilgert, 14, the youngest to die at Astroworld. "He was one of the nicest kids I knew and always made people laugh," a friend said on Twitter.

 

Jacob Jurinek, 23, an art and media student at Southern Illinois University. In a statement, his family said he was known for his "contagious enthusiasm, boundless energy and his unwavering positive attitude".

Axel Acosta, 21, studying computer science at Western Washington University. His family told local media that he'd travelled alone to the show - the first music festival he'd ever attended.

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On Saturday, Houston police Chief Troy Finner said the investigation into the tragedy would include the homicide and narcotics divisions. Teams will review video from the scene to explore the causes of the surge and what had prevented people from being able to escape. 

Several concert goers had to be revived with anti-drug overdose medicine, including a security officer who police said appeared to have an injection mark.

"We do have a report of a security officer... that he was reaching over to restrain or grab a citizen and he felt a prick in his neck," Chief Finner said. 

"When he was examined he went unconscious," he added. "He was revived and the medical staff did notice a prick that was similar to a prick that you would get if somebody is trying to inject."

In his first statement since the event on Twitter, Travis Scott thanked the police and emergency services and said he was "committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need".

Later he posted a video message on Instagram, in which he encouraged anyone with information about the incident to contact the authorities.

Media caption, 
"I'm honestly just devastated" – Travis Scott posted this video on Instagram
 

Scott, whose real name is Jacques Webster, made his big breakthrough in 2013 and has since had eight nominations for Grammy Awards

He has a child - and another one on the way - with socialite Kylie Jenner, who was among the 50,000 people at the festival. 

She posted on Instagram that they were "broken and devastated".

"I want to make it clear we weren't aware of any fatalities until the news came out after the show and in no world would have continued filming or performing", she wrote. 

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Sense of belonging turned deadly

Angélica Casas, BBC News, Houston

A makeshift memorial has been set up along some fencing near the entrance to the festival grounds. 

Ruby Ayala, 19, came to pay tribute with her family. This was Ayala's first music festival. She went with her sister and some friends - and they made new friends among the crowd. 

One of them was Franco Patino, who had travelled to Texas from out of state. He has now been confirmed as one of the eight victims.

"He had told us he would protect us because he had been to concerts like these before," Ayala said in tears. "I thought to myself, 'I'll just stick with him'."

When the commotion began, they thought it was a mosh pit, a popular dance at music events that involves people pushing against others. But then everyone around them started having trouble breathing and it was hard to get out.

They soon lost Patino in the crowd. "If I would have moved over just a little bit, that could have been me."

Standing in front of the memorial, Ayala's younger sister leans in to hug her. "It's hard to believe the candles here are also for him."

Ayala's mother, Graciela Martinez, still can't believe her daughters were among the attendees that day. They had called her Friday night right after the festival.

"I didn't understand why she was so upset," Martinez said, of her daughter's call. "She forgot to tell me there were people stepping on dead people. It's painful to see that they went through that and there was nothing we (as parents) could do to help them."

Marc Medina, 18, is also back here with his family today. He starts remembering how at the concert he passed by a woman needing help. "There was this girl and she fell…" He can't bring himself to continue.

"It's not easy to come back here," he said. "But you want people to feel remembered and not forgotten."

 

Source: BBC News 


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